Lakers play best game of the year at state-ranked Perham
Detroit Lakes did not get the win Thursday night on the road against undefeated No. 7AA Perham but the Lakers made the Yellowjackets sweat and work hard in a 53-45 Perham victory at Prairie Wind Middle School.
“It was our best effort of the year, by far,” DL head coach Markus Okeson said. “I think our intensity, our enthusiasm, everyone was engaged the full 36 minutes and we did a lot of good things.”
DL got the lead early and the score was tight at 18-17 on a Jackson Haire putback of a Jake Bettcher miss with four minutes left in the first half. Haire played a tough four minutes when points were scarce for either team.
The lead changed hands three times and Perham held a small advantage to the halftime horn.
“I thought Detroit Lakes was a very good team,” Perham head coach Dave Cresap said. “I have to give them a lot of credit. They are physically strong, they are long at every position and they play really good defense. I was really impressed with them. I thought our guys were a little flat to start the game. We wanted to jump out early and we couldn’t do it. But, we battled. Those games are great for teams, you learn how to win the close ones. We battled and persevered and came away with a win.”
DL’s Gabe Hanninen drained a three to pull within one point at 24-23 and Perham’s Martin LaFond was called for a foul away from the play allowing DL to get the bucket and retain possession.
A Connor Froke three for the lead missed and Perham’s Finn Diggins scored the last bucket of the half for a 26-23 Jacket lead at the break.
On paper, DL came into the game on a six-game slide and Perham was 12-0. Going to halftime down one possession was a big boost for momentum that had the Laker fans who traveled to the game worked up and a sense of uneasiness from the Jacket faithful.
“We’re still trying to find ourselves; we’re learning things and getting more comfortable each week,” said Okeson. “We’re a capable team. When things fall into place we’ll make a nice run here.”
Both teams duked it out in the opening seven minutes of the second half trading baskets and the lead eight times to a LaFond bucket to push Perham ahead 34-33.
LaFond took over late in the game slashing to the hoop and made a pair of free throws and a basket on back-to-back possessions to give Perham some cushion up 38-33.
“He (LaFond) has that explosiveness,” said Cresap. “He is a guy who can get in the lane and make things happen. He hit a big 3-pointers after missing two free throws. He came right down the floor and nailed it. He is a dynamic player. He admitted after the game that he didn’t have his best game.”
LaFond led all scorers with a trio of threes and 21 total points.
Hanninen and Diggins traded scores. Perham’s Logan Richter and DL’s Tanner Doppler also exchanged field goals. A LaFond three gave the Jackets a 47-39 lead with three minutes to play.
The Lakers clawed back to within four on a Bettcher three at 1:11 and Ben Stearns forced a turnover at half court to give DL the ball back.
Logan Pratt had a pair of chances to score down low that would not fall and Carter Cresap drained a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game up 51-45.
A Tanner Doppler three missed and Pratt’s follow-up would not fall either as time ran out on a Laker upset.
DL has plenty of positives to take away from the game, despite the loss.
“We did, absolutely,” said Okeson. “Outside of getting it done, we did everything well for about 32 minutes. A couple minutes where the game was in the balance they hit a few shots and we didn’t.”
“They are a nice team and they are going to beat someone that’s not ready to play them,” said Cresap.
Perham has started the season 13-0, a first in school history.
“That’s quite an achievement for this team,” Cresap said. “We have to handle wins and losses the same. If we get bumped off in a loss, we bounce right back and win. These kids have a lot of good goals. One of the players, I think it was Richter, who said, ‘this was a great game for us and we need one of these games.’ He was right, we need to be challenged a bit and they answered it well.”
The Lakers fall to 2-8 but take momentum into Friday night’s home conference tilt with Crosby-Ironton (7-6).
DL 23 22--45
PER 26 27--53
DL-Tanner Doppler 6, Jackson Haire 8, Jacob Bettcher 11, Connor Froke 7, Gabe Hanninen 5, Logan Pratt 4, Jake Kerzman 4
3-pointers: Bettcher, Froke, Hanninen. Free Throws: 2-7. Team Fouls: 19. Fouled Out: Haire
PER-Jenson Beachy 8, Martin LaFond 21, Josh Jeziorski 8, Ben Winkels 2, Carter Cresap 6, Finn Diggins 5, Logan Richter 3
3-pointers: Beachy, LaFond 3, Cresap. Free Throws: 16-28. Team Fouls:13. Fouled Out: None